Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Chicago Honors Student Beaten To Death

From The Daily Voice:

A Chicago honors student was beaten to death on Thursday as two rival gangs fought outside a community center in that city.

An amateur cell phone video posted on YouTube showed a young man being struck on the head by a young man with a long wooden board, then punched by another young man.

The victim was later identified as Derrion Albert, a 16-year-old high school student who was walking to a bus stop when he got caught up in the street fight.

Cook County prosecutors charged four teenagers with first-degree murder, including Eugene Bailey, 18, Silvonus Shannon, 19, Eugene Riley, 18, and Eric Carson, 16.

"How could kids be so prone to violence that they would do something this horrific," City Alderman Carrie Austin said to CNN's Don Lemon. "What's going through their minds that they would even participate in something like this," she said, describing it as a "mob action."

"It is just absolutely ridiculous that we're not teaching our children any type of conflict resolution," Alderman Austin said. Austin also discussed the parents' responsibility to raise their children, but warned that the victim "had a great mother. It was not her fault. He was a honor student," Austin said.

The incident comes to light at the same time President Obama is trying to sell the city of Chicago to the International Olympic Committee as the site for the 2016 Olympics. Obama's move has already been criticized by some Republicans, who argue that the president should be focused on the economy, health care, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Baltimore Examiner columnist D.K. Jamaal sees it differently. "The question, then, is not whether Obama's Olympic lobbying is a good use of Presidential time, but whether Chicago, USA is a good use of the Olympics in the first place -- especially in light of how harshly many Americans judged the IOC for awarding the Olympics to China despite its pitiful human rights record."

What's going on in schools today? I mean everyone has witnessed fights at school before. But it is so shocking to me that young kids could have so little respect for someone else's life. And for someone who wasn't even involved in the fight. But if we want to go deeper, we all have a preoccupation with violence or fights. How many of us have either egged on or secretly hoped a vicious argument would turn into a fight? How many of us have watched someone get beat up and shout things like "Damn he got stuck," or "Babee, she got skull dragged?" Two kids fighting a school or people outside a nightclub suddenly become Floyd Mayweather or Evander Holyfield, just random forms of entertainment.

Now I'm not naive enough to believe that every situation can be talked out. Sometimes fighting is necessary, such as in cases of self-defense. But violence over petty bullshit (i.e. shoes, clothing, gang affilitation-why are you fighting over turf? you don't even own it! he say/she say) is senseless and never solves anything. It just leads those victimized to go out and seek revenge, contributing to more violence. Nothing is proven in random acts of violent aggression.

I seriously think anger management/conflict classes should be talk in schools. Obviously parents should teach their kids to respect others and take responsibility for their own actions. But sometimes parents can contribute to the mentality of 'fight first, think later,' so it's not that simple either. I also don't think that music or movies that have violent content automatically promote violence. Context needs to be taken into account before making that judgement.

But I do believe that each of us has to look in the mirror and take responsibility for ourselves. A video game or movie or song can't make you do anything. It can suggest, but not physically make you do anything. We have to value our lives and teach kids to value theirs and others' lives as well, and teach them how to look critically at the movies they watch and games they play, to learn how to separate fantasy from reality. Fighting or any form of violence should be a last resort, not the only option.

Here is footage of the fight below. Warning: It is graphic.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

HIV Vaccine Shows Promise

Thailand researchers are reporting that a new HIV vacccine may be effective preventing new infections. The results come from a field trial sponsored by the U.S. Army. Among the 16,000 participants, 30 percent reported positivel effects after treatment.

Specifically, a combination of ALVAC, made by Paris- based Sanofi-Aventis SA, and AIDSVAX, produced by VaxGen Inc., of South San Francisco, reduced infections by 31.2 percent in the people who received it compared with those on a placebo.

"What is exciting is that this has provided a proof of concept, that we can do this," Cate Hankins, chief scientific officer at UNAIDS, told Bloomberg News. "Anything is possible now, it feels. It is a scientific breakthrough," Hankins said by phone from London.

While the news is incredible, the vaccine isn't likely to be licensed for general medical use in the near future. Still this is very promising.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I Only Got 4 Minutes....

This should've been thought of sooner. The White House has uploaded a four-minute video of the major points in President Obama's healthcare proposal. The video takes excerpts from the president's recent speech on reform and provides bullet points to make the plan clear. Watch it below:

Monday, September 21, 2009

Question of The Day: Top 5 Moments When You Knew When You Were Gay?

So many times when we as gay/bi men talk/think about our coming out, our minds flash back to tearful confessions to loved ones. But what were the funny, innocuous moments when it dawned you that you were a card-carrying member of the Rainbow Coalition? Here are my top five moments:

5. When I nearly passed out when one of my aunts brought my freshly sewn and tailored black and gold choir robe to our house. I literally ran through the house and pretended to faint when I saw it.

4. Once while at my great-aunt's house when I was about 9, my cousin, a firefighter, brought a calendar that his department had created for charity. I remember flipping through the entire thing 2 or 3 times to get a good glimpse at all the man candy lol.

3. I memorized the entire dance routine from Aaliyah's "Are You That Somebody." Both the guy's and the girls' parts. Seriously. My brother could tell when the video came on because he could hear me stomping away in the other room. Janet's "I Get Lonely" was also another video I grooved to every time it came on. Of course I've J-sette along to "Single Ladies" more than a few times too, so I guess not much has changed!

2. When I was about 8 I was mowing the front lawn while our next-door neighbor, a police officer, was also mowing his yard. To this day I can still remember what he was wearing: purple basketball shorts (and those babies were short!), a purple sleeveless T-shirt that accented his huge bulging arms, a dark-colored cap and white sneakers. What really sealed the deal was when I rode down the little slope of the yard and caught a view of the brotha's backside as he was pushing the mower back up. Them cakes were just bouncing away and sweat was just dripping off of his biceps and strong calves *whew* *fans self to cool down*. FYI: He still lives next door (and is still fine--in an older man sort of way).

1. This moment also took place at my great-aunt's house lol. Somehow my brother and I found ourselves in my cousin's old room. As we explored its contents we found--what else?-- some Playboy magazines. Naturally curious we flipped through the dirty mags to see what was so forbidden about them. Baby, if I didn't know my veins bled lavendar before, I knew that day, because while my brother drooled over the bare ladies' naked nether regions, I in the words of Stanford Blanche, "Took one look at it and said--NO!" You might as well have called my ass Bill Compton, because those breasts felt like sunlight to my eyes, and I quickly tossed them. Now that calendar on the other hand.....:)

So what are your top 5 moments? I'd love to hear them.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New Music: Janet Jackson "Make Me"

If her recent VMA performance was disappointing, then this new track from Ms. Jackson will renew your faith. "Make Me" sounds like a house/funk track and has a deep bass that will probably shake you out of your seat at the club lol. Janet's voice sounds great and energetic. Listen to the track here.

Mechad Brooks: "I Won't Marry Until Gays Can"

In an interview with honeymag.com, True Blood's Mechad Brooks(or "His Royal Hotness" as I refer to him lol:), spoke out strongly for gay marriage. When asked about his own plans to get marriage, Brooks said:

I haven’t even gotten that far. But yeah, I want a wife, I want kids. The whole thing. But I’m also not even concerned with marrying somebody until it’s legal for everybody to get married. And what I mean by that is the whole Prop 8 thing.

I find it really offensive. I just find it really problematic when you start throwing people’s rights away. Until we get our gay brothers and sisters back into a realm of consciousness that everyone else is in, it’s just not right. A woman who’s getting married — it’s probably going to be a gay man who made her dress, and a gay man who’s doing her hair and makeup, but he can’t get married. How messed up is that?

Sexy and intelligent. How about that? Mr. Brooks also talks about his aversion to clothing in the interview. Read the rest here.

Monday, September 14, 2009

ENDA Hearing Set For Sept. 23rd

By CHRIS JOHNSON, Washington BladeSep 14 2009, 1:38 PM

A congressional committee is set to hear testimony on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act later this month, although many details about the hearing are not yet final.

The House Education & Labor Committee will hear testimony on ENDA on Sept. 23, according to committee spokesperson Aaron Albright. He said witnesses had not yet been finalized for the hearing and a subsequent markup for the legislation hasn't been scheduled.

Albright said the hearing "will be the first step in the legislative process" toward passing ENDA.
"It's to get our members up to speed on the issues, what's going on out in the states, what some state laws are doing about it, and some good stories about companies who've embraced diversity — and some not-so-good stories," he said.

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who's gay and a chief sponsor of ENDA, said he believes that House has the votes to pass the legislation this fall and he's expecting some Republican votes in favor of the bill.

Frank said passage would be more difficult in the Senate, though, where 60 votes are required to overcome a filibuster.

"[The Democrats] have majorities in the Senate right now, [but] it's not clear that we have 60, given the way the Republicans have been using the filibuster," Frank said. "The critical job for people who want to get … ENDA adopted is to lobby senators."

Iraqi Militias Use Internet to Kill Gays

This is so wrong. According to the Gaurdian Iraqi militias have now taken to the Internet to lure gays out for torture and murder.

Abu Hamizi, 22, spends at least six hours a day searching internet chatrooms linked to gay websites. He is not looking for new friends, but for victims.
"It is the easiest way to find those people who are destroying Islam and who want to dirty the reputation we took centuries to build up," he said. When he finds them, Hamizi arranges for them to be attacked and sometimes killed.
Hamizi, a computer science graduate, is at the cutting edge of a new wave of violence against gay men in Iraq. Made up of hardline extremists, Hamizi's group and others like it are believed to be responsible for the deaths of more than 130 gay Iraqi men since the beginning of the year alone.

The deputy leader of the group, which is based in Baghdad, explained its campaign using a stream of homophobic invective. "Animals deserve more pity than the dirty people who practise such sexual depraved acts," he told the Observer. "We make sure they know why they are being held and give them the chance to ask God's forgiveness before they are killed."

Ironically homosexuality was not criminalized under Saddam Hussein's regime. In the 1960s and 1970s the region was known for its lively gay scene. The current wave of anti-gay terrorism began after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. One victim's mother, Azhar al-Saeed, said her son's killing was horrific.

"He didn't follow what Islamic doctrine tells but he was a good son," she said. "Three days after his kidnapping, I found a note on my door with blood spread over it and a message saying it was my son's purified blood and telling me where to find his body."
She went with police to find her son's remains. "We found his body with signs of torture, his anus filled with glue and without his genitals," she said. "I will carry this image with me until my dying day."

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Obama Gets His Groove Back

President Obama seemed reinvigorated last night as he gave what was perhaps his most thorough speech on health care reform. Much to the chagrin of Republicans, Obama emphasized his continued support of a public option for those who don't have health insurance.

The president's plan would require eveyone to have insurance, would stop insurance companies from denying service because of a pre-existing conditition or placing limits on the money they spend on clients' medical care.

I think this speech was good move for the administration after enduring a summer of lies and chaotic town hall meetings. Watch the full address below.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Panel Discussion: Religion, Masculinity and Homophobia

Cleo Manago, founder of Black Men's Xchange and AmASSI Health and Cultural Centers and other activists and authors discuss these issues at Al Sharpton's National Action Network 2009 Summer Conference in Atlanta. It's a fantastic, respectful discussion. Get into the clip below:

A Candid Debate On Black Manhood, Same Gender Love & Civil Rights: Fact & Fiction from Cleo Manago on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Throwback Mix: 1994

Some many classic albums and singles came out in '94....Illmatic, Ready To Die, My Life, CrazysexyCool, Age Ain't Nothin' But A Number, Dookie....that I figured it'd be nice to take you back to the mid-90's in video form. Sit back and enjoy.

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